1Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, USA Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH, USA.
2Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, NH, USA The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Hanover, NH, USA.
In 2012, dozens of patients of Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire contracted new hepatitis C infections that were tracked back to a cardiac technician who ultimately confessed to drug diversion. A multi-state epidemiological investigation of hepatitis C cases occurring in multiple hospitals revealed that the technician had been fired from prior institutions due to similar drug diversion activity about which Exeter Hospital had not been notified. In this article we highlight the institutional ethical issues raised by this outbreak, and propose a national centralized reporting system to support institutional fulfillment of the ethical obligation to protect the health of patients by preventing such nosocomial outbreaks.